Geox-TMC looking increasingly likely to miss Tour de France
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Geox-TMC looking increasingly likely to miss Tour de France

by VeloNation Press at 5:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Spanish media reports that team has already been told it won’t be present in July

Carlos SastreIndications that the Geox-TMC squad could be passed over for a Tour de France appear to be growing stronger following a report by AS that the team has already been refused a place.

The Spanish newspaper states that the Pro Continental team has been told by race organisers ASO that it will not be granted the wildcard place that it had been chasing. This would mean that the 2008 winner Carlos Sastre and the 2010 third-place finisher Denis Menchov will be absent from the race, which had been the new team’s top target for the season.

If accurate, one likely reason for the decision is the fact that of the 18 ProTeams which automatically gain selection, there is just one French squad. Ag2r La Mondiale is guaranteed a ride, but Europcar, La Française des Jeux, Cofidis, Saoura-Sojasun and Bretagne-Schuller are chasing what are likely to be just four wildcard places.

There are also other non-French teams which are vying to take part, but it would be very surprising if there were not at least two to three home squads picked.

What may be another complicating factor for Geox-TMC is the fact that the team’s predecessor Saunier Duval won three stages in the 2008 edition of the race thanks to its then-riders Riccardó Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli, but brought negative publicity to the event. Ricco subsequently tested positive for CERA and the entire squad was asked to leave the race; retests of samples later showed that Piepoli had also taken the third-generation form of EPO.

The team was passed over for admission to the race in 2009 and allowed ride in 2010 (as Fuji-Servetto and Footon Servetto, respectively). Now that it is no longer a UCI ProTour/ProTeam squad, it has less leverage.

AS reports that officials from the team held a meeting with ASO in recent days and were told then that it would not be given a place.

Sastre yet to comment, but pleased with training camp:

Former Tour de France winner Sastre is yet to comment on the matter, but the Spaniard has expressed satisfaction with the team’s recent training camp.

“It was a very positive focus for the whole team. We enjoyed a week of sun and pleasant temperatures, which have always been very important to develop our training as usual and to test the bikes, both for road races and time trials.”

It was also a rare chance for the entire team to get together and to build bonds and morale. “From now on all are taking different paths. Everyone will start to compete in different races, so the opportunity to be together during the year will be more difficult. So I think we made good use of time. We were able to get to know the riders a little more, because although it is a team with an old base, practically most of the riders are new. Therefore, I think it was very important.”

Most crucially, it was also a chance to build form in advance of the first races. “We have enjoyed some great days in a beautiful hotel and did some very good training, hard and demanding, in the Tarragona region. There is still some way to go and many things have not arrived yet, but the atmosphere in the team has been very good. The truth is that we have all done this training camp in a very positive way.”

It remains to be seen what the mood will be like if AS is accurate in its reporting that the team will miss the Tour. In that case, Sastre and Menchov are likely to target the Giro and the Vuelta. The former has won stages in both Grand Tours, while Menchov has been the overall winner in each.

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